Friday, August 23, 2013

TV and Babies

This article got me thinking. I have no idea why I was so anti television for Jude. I watched a lot of TV up until I was old enough to play outside on my own, aka "the formative" years, and I turned out just fine. My IQ is over 125 and I have excellent focus, so... what was the issue?

I mean, sure, perhaps if you are just plopping your toddler down in front of a screen and leaving it there all by itself for long periods of time... I can see how that would negatively impact development in many ways, but if you turn it into an interactive, social activity it's pretty great. Not only will it free up precious moments for you to tend to your own needs, it's also a learning experience in its own right -- done correctly.

There is a lot of educational child-friendly programming on Netflix. Once Jude was old enough to actually care about what was on the screen I started playing Sesame Street in the morning so that I could take a shower. It was the only time in my day that I was not holding him where he was content.  I started with the really old episodes and played right on through to the newer ones. He loves it. Now we spend the majority of our day playing, practicing skills, eating, and napping, but I keep Sesame Street on in the background almost all of the time.

The only parts he's ever really interested in are the opening themes to the mini-series throughout (Bert & Ernie's Great Adventures, Abby's Flying Fairy School, etc.) and Elmo's World, so it's often just background noise for us both. I get up and dance with him every time music comes on. I say hello to new characters as they appear on screen and wave goodbye when they depart. I even participate in the interaction parts as if I were a kid too. He is fascinated and thoroughly loves the interaction he and Mommy have with the muppets on the magic screen. He also loves Elmo's World, so much in fact that if it comes on while we're in another room of the house he will stop what he's doing and crawl out into the living room as fast as he can. He'll watch it aptly from start to finish. He's developed an impressive attention span for a human who has only existed outside for 10 months. He's also ahead developmentally of the other babies in his age group.

For a while I felt bad about all of this. It was television. People (professional baby-people!1!1eleven!) these days tell you not to allow any TV time until well after 2 whole years. Before he was here I was so going to stick to that strict rule. No TV! TV is bad! But wait, why again?

Is it the commercials? There aren't any on Netflix and we don't have regular cable so, there's never any advertisements telling him he needs $300 shoes or a flawless complexion. Is it the content? If I decide to watch an episode of Deep Space Nine he isn't learning that Cardasians kill Bajorans. He's actually ignoring it completely while playing with blocks and balls and eating Cheerios within plain view of me. Unless it is Sesame Street, which he has associated as "his" show, he has no interest at all. The television may as well be off he's paying so little attention to what's going on. So I'm confused here. Why did I think TV would make my baby implode again?

I watched TV up until around the age of 5 years and was never overweight, didn't struggle with paying attention or school work, and would always choose to go outside to play over television if the option was available to me. I was not ruined by consumerism, stricken by ADD, or molded into an idiot by my time in front of the screen. So why the heck did I think it'd be so awful for my offspring to do exactly what I did? Exactly what my parents did when they were kids, and if it wasn't the Depression, exactly what their parents probably would have done as children too? Do what's right for you and your kids, mommies. If that includes television, it includes television. If that includes dwelling in the forest in a thicket and living off the fat o' the land, so be it. It works for your family. Just continue to be an interactive part in their development and it'll all go well. It's not about the TV or lack-thereof, it's about being a present parent in your child's life.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Twilight Ritual

Everyday in the wee morning hours, around 4:00AM Neelix starts to roam around the house and yell. There is never a reason for this. He has eaten, has fresh water, companionship, toys, and is always more than welcome to hop into bed to sleep on my feet. But everyday he yells at least several times. It's a 50:50 chance he'll wake the baby.

He's decided to increase those odds. Lately, not only does he start yelling but he walks right up to the nursery and opens the door. Then continues to yell. This is a 100% chance to wake the baby. I can only assume he is in fact yelling every night because he spends all day with Jude and actually wants to wake him up. Which is super adorable, but also super not cool.

Sometimes I just get up in a rush, stumble out half awake into the kitchen and give both Intruder and him an extra scoop of cat food. Food distracts everyone and this seems no different. Sometimes I just get up in a rush, stumble out into the hall and pluck all 25 lb of cat off of the floor and bring him back to bed with me like the world's most inconvenient teddy bear. He never turns down free cuddles.

Last night was exceptionally bad. I hear him start to yell as per usual, a few seconds later I hear Jude start to stir. Now, these days thanks to self-soothing Jude can actually fall back to sleep all on his own during a middle of the night wake up half of the time; the other half of the time he has just been woken a bit too much and still needs Mommy to come soothe him. I knew if I quieted Neelix quickly enough, by the sound of it, Jude would fall back to sleep by himself, I could go directly back to sleep myself, and we'd both wake more refreshed in the morning. Neelix didn't like this idea.

He not only proceeds to push open the nursery door, creating more super interesting sounds to waken the baby, but also meows a few more times just to be sure. If that wouldn't do it, what he did next certainly would: he galloped out into the kitchen where Jude had left several of his toys, and proceeded to activate them. So now there is meowing, singing, sound effects, and a guy shouting shapes. Jude is well awake now.

So I go in and nurse him because by now not only is he awake but he's awake enough that he's realized he hasn't eaten since 7:00PM and surely that will kill him. Then I rock him a little and let him settle comfortably in my lap until he's out once again and stealthily slip him into the crib and sneak out -- where Neelix awaits hopeful that I'll emerge Jude-in-hand like I do every morning around 8:00AM when it's actually wake-up time. I give him a stern look and, defeated, he goes out and flops over in the middle of the living room.

I'm going to have to start making rounds before bed to make sure every single toy is switched to off now. We'll not have that again! Smartass giant cat.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Warming Baby Up to The Sippy Cup

I recently posted a video of my son happily drinking from a sippy cup all on his own at ten months. A few friends of mine are having difficulty getting their children to do the same even though their children are much older. So I figured I'd go ahead and share my strategy.

Long before your baby should be capable of doing things (self-feeding, using a straw or a sippy cup, etc.), let them experiment! Self-feeding doesn't generally take place until the ninth month, sometimes even later, but Jude has been doing it since eight months, because I had been offering him bits of very soft food for two months by that point. During those months he mostly just picked the bits up and mashed them in his hand rather than get them anywhere near his mouth, but it was helping him with his pincer grip.

Babies generally don't start self-feeding with a utensil until after a year of age, but you bet your ass that Jude already owns his very own spoons! Though he doesn't use them to feed himself, he plays with them all the time. They are always available to him during the day. He can pick them up and practice manipulating them with his hands, sometimes he even pretends to feed himself.

I did the same thing with the sippy cup. We've given Jude small amounts of white grape juice since he was about six months old. Not to replace meals or quench his infant thirst, as breast milk is far superior in both regards, but because once he started solids he would get backed up once in a while and white grape juice is a natural, gentle stool softener. We'd give it to him in a bottle when he needed it, but when he didn't need it, I'd put a little in a sippy cup and leave it out for him. He could practice with is much as he would his spoon. To encourage him I'd take a few sips from it myself before setting it down.

Worked like a charm. He now drinks from it willingly between meals. Juice, milk, water, whatever is inside, he'll drink it from the sippy cup. In this way we've avoided him becoming reliant on the bottle, or the breast for that matter. He now uses all three interchangeably. Were I able to pump breast milk, I'd offer him that in the sippy cup too.

So my advice in summary, fellow parents, is don't go by the guidelines. Just because a book says they won't do it until ____, doesn't mean they can't do it earlier. Even if you don't expect your baby to hold his own spoon until eighteen months, give him one at five months. Let him chew on it and throw it around and make a big mess. So what if hes hows no interest in a sippy cup and refuses to drink out of anything but his bottle or the breast at six months, give him a sippy cup anyway. They're only disinterested until suddenly, it's the most interesting thing in the world. The transition later will be far less frustrating for everyone involved!

Disclaimer: Make sure the utensils you are giving for "play" are baby-safe. No metal or glass. Also be sure to supervise baby with these things, as with all things.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Like The Nights of Yore

Tonight was the worst Sleepening (the process by which I prepare Jude for bed time) in the history of Sleepenings. It's the first time it's taken a full hour to complete in such a long time. I'm not sure if his teeth are bothering him or if he's suddenly developed a fear of the dark or something. But ffs.

He finished nursing, then I gave him his bottle to top him off, then he fell asleep beginning the count down (the moment the baby unlatches I start counting to five minutes, after which time it is the ideal moment to place him in his crib with success). All per usual. However then he woke up in tears, struggled to get comfortable unsuccessfully which only brought on more tears, until the point of hysterics.

I changed him to a more upright position which has worked in the past during bed time fusses, and that worked up until he tried to fall asleep in that position -- which he can't, so he started to cry about that. So I returned him to laying across my lap, and he was fine for a second until suddenly he wasn't and he was crying inconsolably again.

Aaron poked his head in (like Castiel) to see if he could help somehow and I asked for him to fetch the Tylenol. He did, and helped administer it which calmed Jude down because 'yay Daddy,' then I tried to get him to doze again but he was still far too upset. And now totally awake.

In the end I had to get up like the days of yore and pace around in the dark with all twenty-some pounds of him for fifteen minutes until he finally passed out. Thankfully. Combination of walking and Tylenol no doubt. Hopefully he sleeps through the night at least. Poor Ducky.

Is that a thing that happens? Do babies suddenly develop a fear of the dark at some point? I mean, it could just be his teeth but I've never seen him that upset before. Ever. So I'm inclined to believe it was multiple things bothering him, teething, sleepiness, darkness, etc.